What Are the Best Stretches to Perform Before Running? We Ask An Expert

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We speak with an RMT to discuss some of the best stretches to perform before running. As it turns out, your pre-workout should include dynamic stretches, while post-recovery should be geared towards static positions. Read below to learn how to incorporate each type of stretch into your routine now.

Exercising outside in the fresh air is one of the few activities I look forward to. There’s nothing like a quick morning run to eliminate morning grogginess and pump you full of energy for the rest of the day. Plus, I’m a sucker for cardio.

If you’re an avid runner like myself, then you recognize the importance of stretching. “The primary focus areas should include the legs and glutes. Think your quads, hamstrings, and psoas muscles (hip flexors)” says Registered Massage Therapist Charlotte Chalmers. “Runners often exhibit signs of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which makes treatment strategies all the more necessary”. But what are the exact stretches we should be completing? And, is it better to stretch before or after a run? Charlotte gives us the full low down, so you know just what to remember the next time you head outdoors.

best stretches to perform before running

How Long Should You Stretch Before Running?

A minimum of 30 seconds per stretch is suitable, according to Charlotte. Anything less than this length of time could have a negative impact on your muscles. “Quick stretches or not stretching enough can stimulate the body to increase tightness, therefore, increasing the likelihood of injury.”

Is It Better to Stretch Before Or After A Run?

It’s recommended to stretch both before and after a run to reduce potential pain and injury. Stretching before encourages blood flow and circulation, which may help improve performance. Cool-down stretches release metabolic waste from the body, which is key to preventing muscle soreness.

Tip: If you have pain unrelated to DOMS, Charlotte recommends taking a foam roller to release muscle adhesions. If pain persists, it might be time to book an appointment with your local RMT to assess the underlying issue.

Dynamic vs. Static Stretching – What’s Better?

Both dynamic and static stretches are important to incorporate into your workout routine. It’s not necessarily about which one is “better” – because both offer a unique set of benefits for the body. It’s about determining which stretch is more appropriate to use when.

Best Stretches to Perform Before Running: 

Dynamic stretching is meant to be performed before you kickstart your exercise. By utilizing the muscles during the stretch, this movement helps “warm-up” up the body, reduce stiffness, and improve mobility (allowing for an increase in range of motion).

1. Leg Swing  

How to get started:

Hold your hands on your hips (or place your left hand against a wall for extra support), then slowly begin to swing your right leg forward and back. Avoid hyperextending your leg or using fast motions. Repeat on the other side.

2. Walking Lunge 

How to get started:

In a standing position, with your feet close together, step your left leg forward and bend at the knees, so that it creates a 90- degree angle. Keep your core engaged as you look straight ahead and avoid extending your left knee past your toes. Repeat the same steps for the opposite leg.

3. Glute Bridge 

How to get started:

Lying down with your back on a mat, bend your knees and keep your feet planted flat. Place your arms by your sides. Next, lift your hips into the air, avoiding overarching your back, and then lower back down.

Best Stretches to Perform After Running:

Static stretches are primed for post-workout recovery. These positions require being held for a short period without movement, allowing the body to transition back to a normal, resting state.

1. Pigeon Pose 

How to get started:

With your head forward, place both hands firmly on a mat and extend your legs back. Now, bend your left leg and lower your knee to the left (it should be close to the mat). Continue to keep your right leg extended. Avoid moving your hips back and forth –ideally want to keep them square. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat for the right leg.

2. Standing Hamstring Stretch 

How to get started:

In a standing position, step your left foot forward. Next, slowly flex the left foot so that your toes are pointed up. Take a slight bend at the hips and bend your right knee. Place your hands on your right thigh and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for the right leg.

3. Quad Stretch 

How to get started:

In a standing position, take your left hand and place it over your left ankle, pulling it up towards your glutes. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for the right leg.

4. Runners Lunge 

How to get started:

In a standing position, bend at the hips and drop your head forwards as you extend your fingertips towards the mat. Extend the leg left back, as your right foot remains planted and forward. The right knee should be in line with the right ankle; your fingertips should be able to touch the mat. Hold for 30 seconds. And repeat for the right leg.